Fight for your rights: “I have to walk two miles to top up my British Gas meters”

24 April 2020

Moneywise columnist Hannah Nemeth gets British Gas to install a credit meter in a reader’s home

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When you have a poor credit rating it can have a knock-on effect on all areas of your life that may seem to have little to do with your finances – and when it is through no fault of your own it can be doubly frustrating.

This is the problem a reader, who had been widowed, faced when trying to get an electricity and gas meter installed in her home. BA wrote to Fight for your Rights about a problem her daughter, JT, had with topping up her prepaid gas meter.

Unfortunately, her daughter has a bad credit rating after her husband died, leaving her with large debts and facing bankruptcy.

British Gas changed where she could top up her pre-paid gas and electricity meters, so JT had to make a two-mile round trip from her home in Hampshire to the nearest pay point. She asked if she could pay by direct debit, but British Gas refused because of her poor credit rating.

However, JT only spends around £850 a year on her combined gas and electricity bill, and she easily earns enough to cover this.

When I spoke to British Gas about JT’s two-mile round trip, it pointed out that it had several locations near her home where she could top her prepaid card – but these were still around a mile each way, so no improvement. Fine on a warm summer’s day but not in the rain or snow.

I asked British Gas to reconsider allowing JT to pay by direct debit.

The energy supplier relented and agreed to exchange JT’s prepaid meters for regular credit meters. It seems that anyone without an existing energy debt is eligible for one.

This means JT can either wait for a quarterly bill and then pay it or she can set up a direct debit and pay a set amount each month.

An appointment to have both prepaid meters exchanged for regular meters was arranged soon after, and JT is now paying her bills by direct debit.

JT is buying her mum a bottle of wine as a thank-you.

BA says: “What a result! We are both truly delighted and couldn’t have asked for more.”

OUTCOME:

British Gas installs new meters

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